The Yukon Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial for Michael Schmidt.
Schmidt was convicted on two charges of impaired driving causing bodily harm this past November. He had pleaded not guilty to both charges. He was sentenced to eight months in jail this past March. He was also banned from driving for three years.
He was later released on bail.
Last week, justices Harvey Groberman, Christopher Hinkson and David Harris set aside the convictions.
In December 2009, the car Schmidt was driving rolled into a ditch along the Alaska Highway. His two passengers, Michael Sanderson and Jessica Frotten, were ejected from the vehicle. Both sustained severe injuries.
Frotten’s back was broken in the accident. She is now a paraplegic. She also sustained a torn aorta, broken feet, punctured lungs and several broken ribs.
Sanderson suffered a broken shoulder, leg and ribs, and torn ligaments in his left knee.
Schmidt was speeding when the accident happened, and had been drinking before getting behind the wheel.
Schmidt’s appeal asserts that the trial judge, Ron Veale, did not find beyond a reasonable doubt that Schmidt’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired at the time of the accident.
During the trial, Schmidt’s blood alcohol level at the time of the accident was in dispute.
The appeal also alleges that Veale erred by not excluding evidence that was obtained in a way that violated Schmidt’s right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
And the appeal alleges that Veale erred by not establishing whether there was a bump or significant frost on the road at the time of the accident.
The appeal judges agreed that evidence about the road conditions was contradictory. Photographs from the crime scene show road conditions were normal. It was also unclear whether Schmidt drove the vehicle in a way that showed he was impaired, the judges found.
Schmidt originally faced six charges, including two counts of dangerous driving and two counts of driving with a blood alcohol level over 0.08. He was acquitted on those four charges.
A date for the new trial has not yet been set.